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IRISi is a social enterprise that promotes the IRIS programme, a specialist domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training, support, and referral programme for general practices. The initiative main’s goal is to improve the healthcare response to gender-based violence through health and specialist services working together.

That said, we answered 5 of the most frequently asked questions regarding DVA and healthcare.

#01 How frequently DVA goes unrecognised?

In a nationally representative primary care database of approximately 6% of the UK population, only 0.5% of women had DVA recorded, compared to the Office for National Statistics estimated prevalence of 17%. While it is impossible to know exactly how much DVA is under-recorded, it is clear that multiple strategies are needed to improve identification for those affected by DVA.

#02 Why DVA is a gender-based issue?

In the United Kingdom, in the year ending March 2017, 7.5% of women (1.2 million) experienced domestic abuse. The number is now closer to 2 million. While DVA can affect both men and women, it is a gendered issue. Women are more often exposed to multiple forms of abuse and more frequently so. Women who experience DVA suffer chronic health problems including gynecological problems, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological symptoms, chronic pain, cardiovascular conditions, and mental health problems.

According to Canadian General Social Survey (2006), compared with male DVA survivors, women are:

  • 3x more likely to be injured as a result of violence;
  • 5x more likely to require medical attention or hospitalisation;
  • 5x more likely to report fearing for their lives;
  • 8x more likely to suffer sexual violence.

#03 Why General Practice should improve their response to DVA?

A few years ago, Health Foundation published “Improvement in Practice: The IRIS Case Study“, a report focused in explain and explore exactly how IRIS intervention works and why it is so urgent for primary healthcare to embrace the programme.

The article highlights that between 6 and 23% of women attending general practice will have experienced physical or sexual abuse from their partner. “Domestic Violence is a common problem that is almost invisible in primary healthcare, even though women would most like to receive support from their doctors. Only around 15% of women with a history of domestic violence have any reference to violence in their medical records in primary care. When a woman does disclose domestic violence, the response is frequently unsatisfactory as doctors and nurses are often unaware of appropriate interventions”.

#04 How much DVA costs?

A recent study by the Home Office estimated that cost of domestic abuse for its victims in the year ending on 31st March 2017 was approximately £66 billion. That is at least 6 times more than previously estimated. In 2012, the cost of DVA in the UK, including medical and social services, lost economic output and emotional costs, was estimated to be £11 billion.

#05 How the IRIS programme can support your practice and patients to identify DVA?

Each practice that becomes part of the IRIS programme receives a named Advocate Educator.

Our Advocate Educator (AE) provides support to both the practice and the patients that are recognised and referred.

Support for your practice:

👉In-house specialist domestic violence training sessions to become better equipped to respond to concerns and disclosures of DVA from all patients including perpetrators. This includes training for all your clinicians, as well as your reception/administrative team. 

👉Ongoing support and DVA consultancy after training is completed from a named Advocate Educator.

👉Literature (posters and cards) for your practice explaining that you are a DVA aware practice. 

👉Developed and enhanced safeguarding responses to both children and adults.

👉A simple referral pathway for your patients to a named Advocate Educator, reducing the time required from GPs and practices to respond to disclosures and related issues.

👉A certificate for each clinician who attends training, counting towards their CPD points.

👉Regular attendance from your Advocate Educator at practice meetings to remind staff about the service and provide support with challenging cases. 

Support for your patients:

👉Emotional support, a safe place to talk about how DVA has affected them and the impact this can have on their emotional/physical well-being.  The Advocate Educator works in a patient-centred way, at the patients pace, outlining options and choices. 

👉Practical support, including advice around finances/benefits, referrals into counseling/group work, housing, legal advice, safety planning, referrals to MARAC/safeguarding, support reporting to Police or attending court.  

If you are a commissioner, our programme can help improve both clinical practice and quality of life for patients in your area. If you are a clinician, the IRIS programme is here to train you to identify Domestic Violence and Abuse in its early stages and to support your patients. Let us help you so you can help them.


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AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project



SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.



Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.


The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.



Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.


Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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